A Baccalaureate sermon for Nevis High School, Nevis, Minnesota - May 21, 2017 - 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Your God is a God who gives. A God who provides. A God who offers to you all things to make for yourself a life in this world and a life for others. This God speaks to you at each moment of each day through many different people, as preachers to you; and he speaks to show you of his goodness and mercy that goes with you. Whether you are in school, graduating, been an adult/parent for a long time, God still stands as one for you regardless of how well you do, or how you use that which he gives to you.
When I was as in high school, being a letter winner was a big deal. Showing off your athletic or academic achievement was important for your status in school. So you’d get the jacket with the patches and the medals and all that stuff. You’d wear it, or if you had a significant other, they wore it. It was like a boundary that you gave to speak of how awesome you were.
The thing is, once that last bell rang on that last day, once you took the diploma in your hands, that jacket meant nothing. You laid that down for another jacket, or hat, or whatever you would take up as you moved on to that new phase of life. That is where you stand today. You stand as those who, come this time next year, will have spent almost a whole year as something other than the high school student. Something other than the athletic star or the prom queen. You will have been sent out into the world to live as one prepared to serve all sorts of ways that are given for you to give of yourselves.
Now you will wake up tomorrow, still a student. Come next Sunday, a graduate. Come the fall - a college student, a soldier, an airman, a sailor, an employee, an entrepreneur. In each of those things God has gifted you. Gifted you to share of your amazing abilities and insights to give to others. To share words of love. To cover people in compassion. To invent new ways of saving lives. To be the means by which God gives to others. That is you. That is a big job. That is something that maybe you did not think was what you are, but you are. I tell you that God speaks to you now as a loving Father to say that you are his workmanship to love and serve God and the neighbor, whomever you come across. All part of this work of God. All of you part of what God is doing in the world.
The hopes of parents and teachers is that you have been prepared. You have been taught how to think, how to learn, how to look at others as God’s gift. Others as those gifted to give to you and you give to them. The hope is that you walk out the doors of Nevis School for the last time, the adults that you are. Not children. Not youth. Full fledged members of the Body of Christ and of society, gathered to serve and be served by God and others for the glory of the coming Kingdom. To love and show mercy, forgiveness, and grace.
The amazing thing is that we need you. We can’t be the body of Christ, the people of God, the workers in the world without you. We need your gifts, your abilities. God has given you to us because we are not complete without you. The Apostle Paul goes on to speak in this chapter about how some of us are eyes, feet, hands, heads, arms, legs, butts (that’s me). We need you as part of the body. We need you as part of our world to be those who give us what we can’t – as you are used by God. That is your calling now. Calling to go forward in these years to join with us in the work of that world as God sends you out.
The amazing thing of this story is that you did not ask for the gifts. You were given them anyways. Through the grace of God, you are captured in his work. God choosing to work in you and for you. In you and for the world. Never expecting that you fulfill all of what he wishes for the universe. But giving you that part, as a start of what he gives. Gives to you at the beginning of the creation, that you might know that he is one who gives you what you need. Thanks be to God. Amen.